Agnon's Moonstruck Lovers

The Song of Songs in Israeli Culture

Ilana Pardes

  • Published: 2014
  • Subject Listing: Jewish Studies; Literary Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 216 pp., 13 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies
  • Contents

Agnon's Moonstruck Lovers explores the response of Israel's Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon to the privileged position of the Song of Songs in Israeli culture. Standing at a unique crossroads between religion and secularism, Agnon probes the paradoxes and ambiguities of the Zionist hermeneutic project. In adopting the Song, Zionist interpreters sought to return to the erotic, pastoral landscapes of biblical times. Their quest for a new, uplifting, secular literalism, however, could not efface the haunting impact of allegorical configurations of love. With superb irony, Agnon's tales recast Israeli biblicism as a peculiar chapter within the ever-surprising history of biblical exegesis.
Ilana Pardes is professor of comparative literature at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

"This new study confirms Ilana Pardes as one of the most deeply interesting scholars in the field of comparative literature."
-Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley

1. Introduction: Upon the Handles of the Lock

2. The Song of Songs as Cultural Text: From the European Enlightenment to Israeli Biblicism

3. Rechnitz's Botany of Love: The Song of Seaweed

4. The Biblical Ethnographies of "Edo and Enam" and the Quest for the Ultimate Song



"In her vital contribution to Agnon studies, Ilana Pardes delivers a richly multifaceted exploration...[that]will be valuable reading for any dedicated student of modern Hebrew literature and culture. Its impact on Agnon scholarship will surely be significant and lasting."
-Ramen Omer-Sherman, Hebrew Studies